Being a beginner (aka newbie) cook can seem intimidating, but combine that with being a new plant-based eater may seem even more daunting, especially to someone who’s never eaten a meal without meat. The Meatless Monday campaign has been one of the most helpful tools for sharing how simple eating meatless really can be. Even if you just do it on Mondays, you’ll be taking a huge step towards a healthier lifestyle, a delicious culinary exploration, and contributing to a kinder environment and more animal-friendly world.
But you probably already know that, right? For those of you new to a plant-based diet and who have no experience cooking, or cooking without meat, we’ve got some simple meal ideas to share with you that are easy to prepare and delicious too.
All of these can be prepared in advance or made fresh for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. Try these suggestions out and be sure to share with us your favorite easy Meatless Monday idea too!
It’s one of the most important meals of the day to start out the plant-based way! Start things out on the right foot and go with one of these three easy, simple (and all vegan!) choices.
Oatmeal and Berries With Chia and Flax Seeds
One of the easiest meals that anyone can throw together in the morning is oatmeal! And it’s much better for you than a processed box of vegan cereal, no matter how tasty and tempting those may be. Plus, you don’t have to worry about grease from bacon or a risk of salmonella poisoning from eggs with hearty oatmeal! You can season your oatmeal however you want and even get creative with it whether you go savory-style or sweet. To keep things simple, make a batch of some old-fashioned rolled oats (which are really thick and creamy), and add in some blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, or blackberries. Then toss on a few chia and flax seeds for some plant-based omega 3’s and protein! There you go- a perfect breakfast in minutes that will stay with you all morning long!
Try some of our other oatmeal suggestions for more ideas.
Whole Grain (or Gluten-Free) Waffles with Almond Butter, Strawberries, and Cinnamon
If you truly don’t have time to even make oatmeal, then go with some store bought gluten-free or whole grain organic waffles (which will be free from genetically modified soy and corn.) There are many great vegan brands on the market and many that are also gluten-free, organic, and even some that have added omega 3 fatty acids from chia, flax, and hemp. Smear on some almond butter, a few strawberries, and some cinnamon. If you’re really feeling super healthy, toss a few chia seeds on there too! You can turn this into a waffle sandwich or eat it open face style if you prefer.
If you have some spare time on the weekends, try our easy waffle recipes and freeze them to defrost each morning for an easy meal on the go.
Everyone can make a smoothie- even if you don’t have a high-tech blender (which is optimal but not required to drink smoothies.) Smoothies are one of the best ways to include a large variety of produce into one meal. You don’t even have to turn on the stove or microwave either. Just add, blend, and go! One simple recipe everyone can make is: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 a banana, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup raspberries, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1 cup spinach, ice, and a little vanilla extract. Blend, enjoy, and start your day off with this nutritious, delicious boost! You can also add some inexpensive, plant-based protein like hemp protein to your smoothie, or even 1/2 cup of oats to make it more filling.
Plant-based diets include more than salads, you know. Though we’ve got some delicious hearty salads that are easy to make and incredibly filling, you do have other options.
Here are some easy choices:
Veggie Soup and a Veggie Burger
Nothing says comfort like a bowl of soup! But to make it more filling, add a veggie burger to the side or crumble it on top of your soup. You can make your own easy veggie burgers, or buy organic ones that are also free of genetically modified ingredients. Beyond Meat makes excellent non-GMO veggie burgers you can enjoy, and even Dr. Praeger’s now has a line of non-GMO and gluten-free veggie burgers. For a hearty, meaty option, try this Chipotle Maple Sweet Potato Burger, which is off the charts delicious!
A Huge Veggie Bowl
This is super simple to prepare! All you have to do is use a hearty root vegetable, like a baked sweet potato or some carrots and onions, and add your other favorite veggies and a side of greens. One of the most delicious versions is cooked spinach or collards, a sweet potato with tomatoes, roasted broccoli, mushrooms, and some warm mustard drizzled on top. Yum! Or, try Roasted Veggies with Buttery Garlic and Spinach for another amazing option.
A Classic Sandwich
If nothing else, there’s nothing to be ashamed of about having a simple sandwich. Don’t feel the need to over-complicate things if you don’t have to. Most combos that people enjoy the most are actually vegan anyway. Peanut butter and banana, almond butter and jam, peanut butter and jelly, and almond butter, banana, and strawberries are all 100 percent meatless. Go with some sprouted grain bread and raw nut butter as the healthiest option (and if you really want to kick things up a notch.) Other yummy ideas are: The Easy Fix Veggie Sandwich, Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad Sandwich, and the Vegan Humdinger (an absolute must-try!)
Breakfast and lunch are usually easy for people to eat plant-based, but it’s dinner that really seems to throw them for a loop when they can’t reach for beef, chicken, turkey, fish, or pork to add to their plate. Spare the animal and your heart at the same time and don’t fret, we’ve got so many filling, incredibly hearty and delicious dinner options to choose from.
Here are four simple ideas:
Toss some veggies, a little olive or coconut oil and some onions and garlic in a pan. Turn the heat to medium high heat and stir-fry them until they start to brown. Using your spatula, continue to stir them well until nice and toasty. Heat up some brown, black, or wild rice on your stove or the microwave (or buy pre-bagged frozen brown or wild rice you can steam) and add your veggies to the mix. Lastly, toast a few pieces of tempeh (a delicious, meat alternative that’s healthy for you) in the oven. Top your stir-fry with it, and enjoy!
Stuffed Baked Potatoes and Veggies
One of the simplest, most delicious meals is a stuffed sweet potato with salsa, red pepper hummus, and some roasted broccoli. Then add any other veggies you enjoy on the side. Even the steam in a bag veggies you can buy frozen can be made in minutes and are delicious when seasoned with some Mrs. Dash or some other all-purpose seasoning. If you’re a hot sauce fan, add some Sriracha, and you’re set!
Breakfast for Dinner
One fun way to enjoy dinner (especially if you get home late) is to flip flop your day and enjoy breakfast again for dinner! Try vegan protein pancakes or try something hearty like scrambled “eggs”, tempeh bacon, an egg-free omelet, or some savory oatmeal.
Soup and a Salad
Lastly, if you happen to actually enjoy simple foods like soup and salad, then feel free to enjoy them! Soups can be made ahead of time in the Crock-pot and salads can be tossed together in minutes. Try Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup, Warming Carrot Ginger Soup, Toasted Mexican Quinoa Soup, and White Bean and Kale Soup.
Don’t think we’d leave you hanging without something sweet! There’s no dairy ice cream needed here, check out all our yummy dessert recipes and make everything from vegan ice cream to brownies and more!
Here are three simple options if you don’t have a lot of time and your sweet tooth won’t leave you alone:
Shakes can easily be made in your blender or food processor. Everything from chocolate coconut, Banana Superfood, strawberry, to Neopolitan and more are all incredibly easy to make and are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Parfaits can be made in five, simple steps and you don’t need dairy yogurt to make vegan parfaits thanks to some easy ingredients like nuts, dried fruit, oats, coconut yogurt or soy yogurt, and bananas. Layer them all together, add fresh berries or even cacao nibs if you like. Try this Hazelnut Chocolate Parfait made with hazelnuts, dates, coconut, and cocoa or cacao powder. Grab a spoon and dig in!
Vegan cookies can be made raw or you can bake them. They’re also super simple to make and the possibilities are endless! Try Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies, Raw Pecan Spice Delight Cookies, and even a celebrity’s favorite dark chocolate vegan cookies!
Going meatless is pretty delicious, wouldn’t you agree? Don’t forget easy meatless snacks include almonds, cashews, fresh fruit, carrots, red pepper strips, or healthy vegan granola bars. For more Meatless Monday tips, check out the Meatless Monday website. What’s your best Meatless Monday idea for the beginner cook?